IN THIS CHAPTER
X Window system concepts
The KDE desktop
The GNOME desktop
Using window managers
Building X applications
The graphical interface that comes with Linux is provided by an implementation of the X Window system. The X Window system is a set of protocols and standards for a cross-platform, network-transparent graphics display system. On Linux, the implementation chosen was traditionally from the XFree86 project. Arguments about licensing have resulted in the major Linux distributors switching from XFree86 to the X
.org project from
www.x.org. In the case of SUSE, this change was made with the release of the 9.2 version. However, this makes no difference to the principles discussed here.
Historically, the original developers of the X Window system have been very insistent about the fact that it is a window system named X, and thus should not simply be referred to as X. In this book, we refer to the X Window system as X because it is more convenient and common to do so. Computer history fans should note that the designation X originally came from the fact that the project that inspired the X Window system was the W Window system from Stanford University—X is simply the next letter of the alphabet.
The big difference between X and (for example) the graphics display systems found in Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X is that X is inherently network-transparent and is designed from the ground up as a client-server system. That means that, ...